Thoughts #57: How ‘Controlled’ Is Your Reading?

Posted 8 October, 2016 by Rinn in Thoughts / 18 Comments

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Lately I’ve been thinking about how I miss the pre-blogging days of reading, where I felt less pressure to read certain books and reach goals, and often re-read a lot of my favourites. Even though I can choose how I read now, I do feel like there are a lot more influences and pressures than before. Here’s how I think my reading is ‘controlled’ by blogging and websites like Goodreads:

  • I always try to read books to fit the DC vs Marvel Challenge villain each month, which means three books on a certain theme/with a certain element or cover feature. Then there’s the books to fit the heroes, which I read throughout the year – three books per hero, twelve heroes total.
  • I’ll try and read at least one of the Books of the Month for Dragons & Jetpacks, my book group, although I haven’t done too well with it this year.
  • Unlike when I first blogged (and requested every book under the sun), I’m trying to get to review copies as they come, or at least sooner.
  • My feature A Novel Experiment can dictate how I read for a month – although of course I choose this myself!
  • My Goodreads and blogger friends might encourage me to pick up a book sooner because of their wonderful reviews.
  • My Goodreads yearly goal is always 100 books a year, which I often end up increasing – because once I set a goal, I HAVE to achieve it. This means that sometimes I’ll pick books because they’re quicker reads, or sometimes I’ll rush through something just to add one more book to my list.

Not how reading should make us feel!
Not how reading should make us feel!

I’m sure I’m not the only one who can feel the pressures to read certain books or a certain amount of books due to blogging, or other factors like Goodreads. As bloggers, we often get sent books to review, and should aim to review these books before or around their release date – although that’s not always possible!

I’m now trying to take more of a ‘read it when I want to’ attitude, which means I’m turning down a lot of review copies, and I haven’t touched Netgalley since the beginning of the year. I went through a few months this year where I had a bit of a reading slump, and feeling like I had to read certain books at certain times didn’t help. So here’s to reading freedom! 😉

Do you feel your reading is ‘controlled’ by other factors in any way? Do you ever feel pressured to read certain books, or a certain number of books?

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18 responses to “Thoughts #57: How ‘Controlled’ Is Your Reading?

  1. I’ve definitely gone through patches where I’ve felt my reading is driven by the ARC pile and the read-along sign-ups (which I only sign up for because I want to be part of them, but they can add to the pressure). I’m really glad to have got on top of my ARCs over the summer – I’ve got an ever-expanding TBR, which means I have lots of choice as I spend this autumn following whims. I want reading and blogging to be a pleasure – when it starts to feel like work I know I need to back off, meet minimal commitments and follow my heart for a bit.

    • Definitely, if it feels like work then something has gone wrong somewhere! That’s why I am turning down almost all review requests right now, unless something sounds too good to miss.

  2. Raymond Smith

    It sounds very much like you are over stressed with all of these various reading tasks. I have a suggestion for you. After you read for one of these tasks of yours try squeezing in a book that you want to read for pure enjoyment. Read several chapters of it then go to the next assignment. Each time you complete a required task reward yourself will more non stress joy reading.
    If the problem is the actual reading find another type of reward for yourself, something you will enjoy or listen to a book.
    Just food for thought for you. By the way you do a wonderful job and are a major asset to all that read your blog.
    Try to have a great day, thanks for all you do!
    Ray

    • I am a little bit, to be honest! And yes, I’ve been trying that more and more lately – and would you look at that, I’m reading more and more! 😉

      Thank you for the lovely comments, Raymond, that’s so wonderful to hear!

  3. I go through spurts. Some months are more “request” based than others. I’m finding October is a particularly heavy month for requests but it is definitely manageable.

    My reading habits used to be governed by library reads (ie what came in from on hold) and I worked really hard to stop that this year by coming up with some pretty set rules. Some of my rules are 1) no more than 2 requests/ARCs per month 2) only 1 netgalley title at a time 3) no more than 5 books on hold at the library.

    My hope was that those rules would prevent review copies from replacing the many library books I would have out and ergo repeat the cycle. And while I definitely let those rules slide (sometimes I just want to be a part of a blog tour), I’ve had a much better year of reading. I’ve read more books that I’ve purchased than ever before; I can read whatever I’m in the mood for; and in turn, I’ve had less reading slumps than previously.

    It’s hard though at times. It never seems to fail that the moment I change my review request status to close, I get more requests than ever before and I hate saying no. But I’ve become much more comfortable this year with saying “no” (of course in a much nicer way). It took me the better part of this year to come to the conclusion that I can’t read all the books–as much as I want to. And that they will still be there later through some other means. It’s a tough thing to grasp but it’s worthwhile when you do 🙂

    • Do you accept quite a few requests each month? I’m still catching up from Netgalley requests of years ago 🙁

      That sounds like a good set of rules, especially if it’s worked out well for you. I’ve definitely also gotten better at saying ‘no’ too. Actually, I don’t remember the last time I accepted a review submission – maybe just one or two this year?

      • I actually get more requests than I thought I would when I started to accept them. Most of the time, they are full series I am reviewing (because that’s what my blog focuses on)–so I usually have 2-3 books per request.

        I learned earlier this year to limit those (no more than 2/month) and make sure I put them on my calendar ASAP to avoid being bogged down. For example, I might get the request in May but I schedule it for September because I already have requests for June/July. I always forewarn the contact before I get the copies that this will be the case and I’ve been fortunate that they have no issues with that.

        And it works for me because it still allows me to read all the “me” books I want. This way I don’t feel forced to read a request book and that benefits everyone in the long run (especially the review!)

        • Ouch, that’s a lot! You sound really organised with scheduling that though, that’s great. I just add it to the pile and pick it up when I want to read it, which is bad :/ But I do try sooner rather than later.

            • Yes, it’s quite frustrating to feel that after you’ve requested it! However, my reading mood changes so quickly :/ I haven’t actually requested anything for a long time now.

  4. My reading has been super controlled ever since I started blogging and accepting review books. After 5 years of moaning about how I never have time to read “me” books, I’ve decided the only way to dig myself out of the hole is to quit blogging. Which probably won’t happen:-)

  5. Every since becoming a book blogger I feel that my reader has become a lot t more dictated. I feel that there is a lot of pressure to read review books on time and first before books I’ve purchased.

    I don’t find the Goodread challenge to be a problem as I see it as a fun challenge to try and complete. This year I’ve done a couple of readathons over a weekend and they have really helped reduce the reading pile and to keep me motivated to read.

    I think the worse thing about being a book blogger is that it is really hard to reread old books for pleasure. So I use to read Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings every year. But I can’t remember the last time that happened.

    I think your new attitude is the way to go. Fingers crossed it gives you more time to read what you want.

    • Definitely, I swear my ARCs just glare at me from my bookshelves sometimes 🙁 I wanted to do some of those 24 hour readathons but I’m just not sure how they would be possible to be honest.

      I miss my re-reads! Definitely re-reading A Song of Ice and Fire soon.

  6. I also felt this way sometimes. I think I participated in too many challenges this year and it kinda weigh me down haha! And yes, especially after being a blogger, my tbr just increase really quickly. pre-blogging, I never have any unread book… ever. And now.. I have like a whole shelf row full of unread books. Blogging definitely change my reading ways, and I admit I sometimes have to force myself to start a book I’m not in the mood for to achieve my challenge and get to the ARC I needed.

    • Yes, challenges can add a lot of pressure! I actually ended up deleting a lot of mine or abandoning them. The ones I have left have no time limit so they’re not as bad.

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